98.6

Since childhood, I have been all too familiar with the number 98.6. Before I even understood what a decimal point was, I understood 98.6. Before I could count to a hundred, I knew what 98.6 was. It was the red arrow line on an old fashion mercury glass thermometer saying that my temperature was normal.

There were times when I wished that I had a slight fever so I could stay home from school. Other times, I prayed (as only a child could) that the mercury would be at or under the red arrow line so I could go outside and play. In either case, it was the magic number… 98.6.

98.6 now has a significant meaning in the life and times of Evergreen SGV. On Sunday, February 26, 2017, the votes that were cast for the candidate presented to become the next Senior Pastor of Evergreen SGV were counted.

The results were 296 yes, 4 no, and 3 abstentions. Of the 300 votes casts as either a yes or a no, 98.6% of them were in the affirmative. It was a landslide.

What does 98.6% mean now? It means that Rocky Seto was overwhelmingly affirmed as the next Senior Pastor of Evergreen SGV. It means that our church family believes that Rocky is God’s chosen man to lead our church family for years to come. It means that we believe that this is a God-initiated succession. It means that the period of transition can begin with confidence that we are in the will of God. It means that Rocky will have the unmitigated support of the members of Evergreen SGV. It means that God is good.

As for me, 98.6 has taken on a whole new meaning. No longer is that number just about the average normal temperature of a human body as created by God. Instead, whenever I take my temperature, I will be reminded of God’s goodness to our church family.

Starting with the next blog, I will share about The Road to Succession and the lessons learned.

Finally, I am reminded of Ephesians 3:20-21, which says, “20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

Indeed, God has provided “far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think”. To Him be the glory.

Something to think about…

The Search for a Successor

Just after we purchased our current campus, the Church Board commissioned me to find my successor before my retirement. The goal was to go through a transition period where I would have the responsibility of assisting my successor assume the position of Senior Pastor of Evergreen SGV.

I reluctantly took on the mandate from the Board and began a season of waiting for the Lord to choose my successor. The first step was to seek the Lord in prayer and ask Him to deliver the next Senior Pastor to me.

Why this first step? If we look at the succession models in the Bible it is not the role of the predecessor to choose his successor, but it is God’s role. It’s not the same as Finding Nemo or Finding Dory. It is a spiritual enterprise rather than a secular hunt. And, believe me, it is much better to leave the search in the hands of God, than in the hands of anybody else.

Let’s look at the example of the succession from Moses to Joshua in Numbers 27:15-23.

The search begins with Moses praying to the Lord. The account tells us “Then Moses spoke to the LORD, saying, ‘May the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation…’” Numbers 27:15-16. Moses prayed and asked the Lord to appoint a successor because He is one who knows and understands the heart of every man.

It is important to embrace that the senior pastorate is a divine appointment and not just a job hire. If it is a divine appointment, then God has to be directly involved in the process.

Moses gave the reason why he made this appeal before his God. It was his heart’s desire “that the congregation of the LORD will not be like sheep which have no shepherd.” Numbers 27:17b. Moses asked for a successor so that the people would not be without a shepherd.

God heard Moses’ prayer and answered it.

Numbers 27:18 says, “So the LORD said to Moses, ‘Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him’”. God appointed Joshua to be Moses’ successor. It was God’s choice; not man’s. God, however, instructed Moses to lay his hand on him. It was Moses’ responsibility to affirm God’s call on Joshua before the congregation and then, ultimately, transfer authority to him.

Our search came to an end on Sunday, February 26, 2017 after a season of waiting on and listening to the Lord. The church family overwhelmingly voted to call our Joshua. We now have a Senior Pastor in Waiting. He will be introduced at a 10:30 AM Joint Worship Service on March 12, 2017.

The Search for a Successor has come to an end and the journey begins.

Something to think about…

Contra Mundum Pro Mundo

This morning, I was reviewing my Evergreen House of Prayer (EHOP) journal entry for October 26, 2015 and I came across the phrase, “Contra Mundum Pro Mundo”, which means “Against The World For The World”. I continued to write, “We oppose evil, not to defeat the opponents, but to usher them to Jesus.”

The source of the quote was William Wilberforce who was an English Evangelical Christian and politician who was a leader of the movement to eradicate the slave trade. He knew evil when he saw it. Wilberforce was “against the world for the world”. 

Wilberforce was greatly influenced by a man who knew the slave trade all too well. His name was John Newton, who wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace”. 

After I wrote in my journal about these things at EHOP on October 26, 2015, a Breakpoint article appeared on October 30, 2015 by Gina Dalfonzo. She quoted Owen Strachan of Christianity Today focusing on Chuck Colson’s view of how Christians should be active in the world, and what attitude should be the basis for all our work. As Strachan put it:

"Initially, Colson considered himself contra mundum, 'against the world,' as a believer. He wished to stand against evil. He never lost this vital perspective, but his friend, First Things editor Richard John Neuhaus, suggested Colson tweak the self-descriptor. The Christian, he said, is contra mundum pro mundo, 'against the world for the world,' an elegant and accurate summation of evangelical engagement with a fallen order. The believer, and particularly the public-square witness, opposes evil, but does so not to defeat opponents or gobble up cultural territory. We are against the world out of love, seeking always to win lost friends to Christ and usher them into flourishing."

Nothing happens by coincidence. The Lord was speaking to me. In today’s world it is sometimes difficult to oppose the things that are sinful in the sight of God according to His Word. But, oppose we must. It is the Christ-like thing to do. 

Jesus was “Contra Mundum Pro Mundo”. His sacrifice on a cross demonstrated it clearly. He even prayed for His disciples saying, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” John 17:16

It is my hope that our church will always be “Contra Mundum Pro Mundo”… “Against The World For The World”.

Something to think about…

Rejoicing in Unrighteousness

The Prophet Isaiah spoke of a day when people rejoiced in the things that are unrighteous. When bad is good and good is bad.

 He proclaimed,

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;

Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;

Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20

The words of Isaiah unfortunately ring true today. There are many in our society, including some churches, who rejoice with those who are in sin and renounce those who recognize sin as sin.

It is interesting and sad that when a Bible-believing Christ follower expresses that homosexuality is a sin, they are immediately labelled as unloving, narrow-minded and bigoted. When the world says such things, it is understandable. When those who claim to be Christians echo those sentiments, it is a time to mourn.

The world is a pretty mixed up place.  

Christians are supposed to stand for the truth of God’s Word. We are supposed to rejoice as righteousness increases and groan when wickedness prevails. Proverbs 29:2 says, “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, people groan.”

In the musical, Les Miserable, Marius sings, as he tries to decide the right thing to do, “How the world may be changed in just one burst of light! And what was right seems wrong and what was wrong seems right...”

Alas, in one burst of darkness, evil is now good and good is now evil and darkness is being substituted for light and light is being substituted for darkness.

The end result…people begin to rejoice in unrighteousness.

Something to think about…